Guidester Takes New Name, $7.5 Million in New Funding

7/29/08Follow @wroush

When we last wrote about Guidester, back in January, the merchandise search company had just hired a new CEO, John Federman, and was in the process of moving from New York to the Boston area. Now it’s going through another big transformation—changing its name (for the second time in three years), raising a $7.5 million Series C round, adding executives, and dropping its navigational software in order to focus on its paid search advertising business.

From now on (or until the next name change), the Beverly, MA-based company will be known as Searchandise Commerce. The funding round, according to an announcement published this morning, was led by new investor Cloquet Capital Partners of Chicago, and included existing investors DFJ Gotham, Wheatley Partners, Milestone Venture Partners, Inflection Point Ventures, and Tim Draper.

The company, which was founded in 2000 under the name Decidia and changed its name to Guidester in 2006, says it will use the money to expand marketing efforts around its search-based merchandising services, which allow manufacturers to bid for higher placement in search results when customers use the search engines built into e-retail sites such as Buy.com. Federman, when I talked with him in January, compared the paid search service to the in-store merchandising strategies long used by bricks-and-mortar retailers, such as charging product makers extra to give their products prominent placement on the end caps of store aisles.

Now Searchandise Commerce will focus its business on this service, called HitList, and de-emphasize the online navigation aids, called “Guidesters,” that the company had provided to e-retailers such as RitzCamera.com to help customers narrow down their options when searching for products. To help promote HitList, Searchandise is bringing on a new COO, Laurence Stock, and a new vice president of marketing, Nancy Liberman. Both worked with Federman at his previous company, eStara, a click-to-call software provider acquired by Cambridge, MA-based Art Technology Group in 2006.

Searchandise has also hired a former Google executive, John Kennard, as its new director of business development. At Google, Kennard managed strategic e-commerce partnerships and helped to develop the Google Checkout payment system.

In the company’s announcement today, Federman said that, “It was time to build on the business lessons learned and the technical foundation and drive the company in a new direction. Keeping the core principles the same, we’ve added key expertise in the changes to our executive team. The company is poised for success and ready to transform the e-commerce and paid search world.”

Wade Roush is Chief Correspondent and Editor At Large at Xconomy. You can subscribe to his Google Group or e-mail him at wroush@xconomy.com. Follow @wroush

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